Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Friday, April 24, 2009
I started out riding in the Salt Grass Trail as a whim, but it soon grew to be a major event. The number of city dudes who wanted to ride in the trail was unbelievable. For seven years I rode with the Port City Stockyards every year. We ate well and slept in bedrolls. The ride was orignally devised to publicize the Houston Fat Stock Show. It became as big as the stock show itself. About halfway through the seven years we had to make some rules. The ride had become a mob scene and riders got hurt. Now you had to sign up with an organized trail group. At its peak the ride featured 50 wagons and about 3,000 riders. It was an experience.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
I have always loved horses. When we moved to Friendswood I bought four horses: One for Marie and One each for Nancy and Trinka. Marie used to run barrel races. I used to swim the river horseback. But it turned out that the rider in our family was Trinka. From the time she was five years old Trinka rode horseback, with or without a saddle. By the time she was twelve Trinka was an accomplished rider. Eventually, Trinka went to New York and formed a ballet company, but she still loved horses. One day she called me from New York. Daddy, she said, will you bring me a horse. I replied that I would bring her a horse with a new saddle and all I needed was the address of the stable where she was going to lodge the horse. That was the end of that, I am sorry to say. She could not afford the rent of the stable in Manhattan. I also could not afford the price of the rent.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Friendswood was a Quaker community located halfway between Galveston and Houston. It was a little on the dull side but a great place to raise two daughters. I commuted to Houston which took about an hour. You could not buy alcoholic liquor in Friendswood and there was only one church -- the Friends Church. Eventually we established an Episcopal Church which we named Good Shepherd. After a while, NASA was established nearby and many lifelong Episcopalians moved to Friendswood. You still could not buy liquor, but we had weekend dances. The culture of Friendswood was changed. All this took place while NASA was developing. Then came the visit to the Moon. This not only changed Friendswood but the United States.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Marie Peterman and I were married in the Episcopal Church in my home town of San Angelo in front of about 500 people. We resigned from the Standard Times and took the summer off by going to Ruidoso, New Mexico. Later on we ended up in Houston, with me working for the Houston Post and Marie working for the Houston Chronicle. At various times I was an editor, a news reporter, a TV personality and a daily columnist. Marie was an editor at the Chronicle. We were married for 60 years. We were the parents of two daughters, Nancy, who is a lawyer in Austin and Katrinka, who is a publishers assistant in New York. kEventually we published a chain of weekly newspapers between Galveston and Houston known as the Journal newspapers.
Friday, April 17, 2009
I had gone to work for the San Angelo Standard Times and was beginning to be comfortable with my new life. One morning I was sitting at my desk when Marie Peterman came in. She had been to the swimming pool before coming to work. Her hair was braided. She went to her desk with a great deal of confidence. She was slender and stood erect while checking the papers on her desk. It hit me between the eyes. I had not met her and yet I knew she was the one. My Uncle Max came in and said to me: What is going on?" I replied: "Do you see that girl over there?" He looked and replied: "What about her?" I told him: "I am going to marry her." He took another look and said: "What is her name?" I replied: "What difference does that make?"
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Now I was happy. I had a small ranch west of San Angelo with sheep and cattle. I was making money. One day I went about 20 miles west to buy some registered rams so I could upgrade my flock. On the way home I was flagged down by a neighbor. "Have you heard about Pearl Harbor," he asked me. I thought maybe he was talking about a woman named Pearl. Then he explained he was talking about the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. All of a sudden my life was changed. Soon all the young men in the United States were being called up for military service. A year later I began to sell out and then I enlisted in the U.S.Army Air Corps.This tied me up for four years. Finally the war was over. We had defeated Germany and Japan. But I had changed. I now decided to be a journalist. >s
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Daddy was killed in a fatal crash with a truck in a duststorm west of Big Lake. He was driving a V8, probably at a high rate of speed. This was in 1930, during the Great Depression. We had been living in the largest house in town, with servants and two cars. I was in high school. All of a sudden we moved into a small apartment with no servants and no cars. It took me a while to adjust. Meanwhile, mother had taken job as a sales person in a clothing store. She was a strong woman and determined to survive. The only real blow had been when she had to sell her grand piano which she really loved to play. I was a difficult teen ager. However, I soon got a job working after school, but it did not pay a lot of money. There were stories about all the people who were out of work, many of then riding freight cars from town to town. Some of them were called hoboes. Also, crime increased, and the robbers were called hijackers. The bank had a sign: "$500 for a dead bank robber. Nothing for a live one." The cashier had a pistol underneath his window. You had to live during those days to understand what was going on. Armadilloes were called Hoover Hogs after the unpopular president. Actually the meat was good. Finally, Franklin Roosevelt was elected president, but it still was a long time before the country showed signs of recovery.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
My daddy's ambition was to be a major league baseball player. He joined a minor league club in San Angelo and was doing well. In those days the game was played during daylight hours. One day while he was playing in center field the sun got in his eyes and a hard ball hit him right between the eyes. It knocked him cold and he was out for hours. This was the end of his playing days but he still enjoyed watching the game. It was several years later when a tumor developed behind the spot where the ball had hit him. We were in California when he developed headaches, and eventually we came back to Texas where he had surgery to remove the tumor. Fortunately the tumor was benign. Then Grandpa Sam financed Daddy to start over. Daddy established a Ford agency west of San Angelo at Big Lake. This was at the beginning of the Permian Basin which at one time was the largest oil and gas development in the United States. The Permian reached from Big Lake across hundreds of miles to New Mexico and from the caprock at Big Spring to the Big Bend. The discovery well had been drilled two miles west of Big Lake. Daddy sold Model A Fords and later V8 Fords from Big Lake for 300 miles, on to Ozona and Odessa and the towns in between, such as McCamey. He prospered. He carried a big roll of bills. He was successful. I hated Big Lake. It was the opposite of California. There were not many trees and those were mesquites. It was a semi arid land, hot and dry.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Daddy drove us from San Angelo to California in a Model T Ford in l923 when I was five years old. There were no freeways, only graded dirt roads, and no motels. We slept in bedrolls. When we got to California we rented a house which had fruit trees growing in the front yard. We went to the beach and splashed in the Pacific. It was like living in Paradise. Then Daddy began having headaches. California did not have good doctors in the early days and the ones he went to merely gave him pain killers. Some of these shots were a little narotic. I remember one night when Daddy was hallucinating and refused to go to bed because he said it was crawling with ants. Mother was proud but she finally gave in and called Grandpa Sam Moore in Dallas. Grandpa Sam not only was rich, and owned downtown property in Dallas, but he also was on the board of Methodist Hospital. "Hell, Mega, bring him home to Texas. We have the best doctors in the United States here in Dallas," he said. We boarded the train and took Daddy to San Angelo where Grandpa Sam met us and carried him off to Dallas. The surgeons at Dallas removed a tumor from Daddy's brain. It was benign. Within two weeks, Daddy was well again.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
During World War II I was contacted by Uncle Henry who told me that his nephew, Charles, was in San Diego. I was stationed nearby, having returned from service in North Africa. So Charles and I went out into the city. He was just out of boot camp but I had ribbons on my chest. We went into one of the big hotel dining rooms and waited to be seated. After a long wait it became obvious that they were not going to serve us. So we went down the street and ate a hamburger. To make matters worse, the burger was scorched. Several years later I was on a junket and we approached San Diego. The hotel that had snubbed me was on the list for a luncheon. I talked to the tour boss and told him my story. He was sympathetic and cancelled the luncheon at the hotel. We went down to the waterfront and ate seafood. I felt vindicated.
Monday, April 6, 2009
Down at Laredo there was a combined celebration of George Washington's Birthday. The one I attended was at the airport and included some guests from Mexico, including Governor Horacio Teran and a number of generals. As part of the program some high school girls performed a dance routine. One of the generals with Gov. Teran apparently was used to seeing such performances in one of the whorehouses of Mexico. He was a little bit drunk and staggered as he approached the stage apparently to fondle one of the dancers. It looked as if an international incident was about to happen, but Gov. Teran intervened. He grabbed the general, returned him to his seat and hissed in his ear. The timely intervention was well received by the local guests, who included the governor of Texas and other dignitaries.
Friday, April 3, 2009
Down in Nuevo Laredo was Dr. Salvador Pena, who delivered more than 8,000 babies over a period of time. When I met him he was 80 years old and still practicing medicine. Women of Mexican descent living in Laredo would go to Nuevo Laredo to have their babies delivered by Dr. Pena and then would rush back to Laredo to register them as U.S. citizens. Dr. Pena was a believer in the principle of the siesta. He would take two hours off in the early afternoon and usually was to be found in a men only cantina, where he and the other leaders of the community met to eat and drink and exchange viewpoints. Frequently he would leave the cantina and have a tryst with a young woman. He recommended this practice as a method of prolonging life. He pointed out that he was 80 years old and still healthy.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Down the coast from Belize is Punta Gorda, a peninsula. Here is a country store operated by Alexander Chee. He told an interesting story. When he was a young boy in China his province was invaded by Mao. He came from a family of aristocrats. They decided to flee. His mother sewed gold coins into a frayed jacket and he wore this garment to Hong Kong. There he was joined by his father and uncle. Later on they divided the gold and he went to Mexico and then to Punta Gorda where he opened this store. You could buy almost anything in his store. He added Chinese culture in a country which had native Indians, Spanish speaking whites, black residents and mixed races. During the time of Sir Walter Raleigh Belize was invaded by English pirates. From these raids came mixed races. The Indians still lived in nearby villages. The blacks were descended from former slaves. The primary languages were English and Spanish. This was an interesting mix of cultures.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
One thing about being a traveling reporter is that you meet some interesting people. Out of a clear blue sky such a person showed up. She said her name was Provines Davenport. That was not her original name but one that she had chosen. She dressed like a man with matching shirt and pants, a big hat with a wide brim and cowboy boots. She was rich. One time she took a group of us to Matamoros, Mexico, and we ate venison and drank tequila at her expense. But the time that I remember best was at an international festival in Laredo, Texas. The governor of Tamalupis, Horacio Teran, showed up with a delegation. Then Provines showed up. She wanted to dance with the governor. We had a mariachi band and they were already playing. Governor Teran graciously agreed to dance with her. He was not married and was a tall and dignified man. Provines was much shorter. The band struck up and a space was cleared in the middle of the festival. This is a little hard to visualize. Teran was deeply serious and Provines was trying to be dignified. I shall never forget this experience.
The Salt Grass Trail got out of control after a few years. It was not well organized and in one particular year it took nearly five hours to cross the Brazos River Bridge on the highway. One stubborn old timer said he was not going to yield at the gate leading from the bridge. A group of rowdy riders pushed him and his horse into a barbed wire fence. We took him to the emergency room where they had to stitch up a bad cut which took nine stitches. Then, as we went through Hempstead some reckless rider threw an empty beer car into a front year. Unfortunately, the Baptist deacon lived there. He complained. And so we passed some rules. All riders would have to be affiliated with a wagon. The wagon boss would be responsible for their behavior. Whiskey bottles would have to be kept out of sight. This worked. The Trail moved with precision. More family groups showed up.